Acrylamide is a “natural” chemical that has been classified as a carcinogen and it can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested. Despite this “cancer causing label” and its association with nerve damage, skin irritation and possibly reproductive health, acrylamide is used for many purposes ranging from building materials and auto parts to ink and adhesive tape. Acrylamide has been found in municipal drinking water, dental and hair products, soaps/creams and make-up. Here’s some background from the World Health Organizations, www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/chem/acrylamide_june2002/en/index.html
Interestingly enough acrylamide is “naturally” formed when foods that contain both asparagine (an amino acid/protein) and sugar (or carbohydrate) are fried, grilled or baked at temperatures higher than 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked potatoes and cereal products have been identified as having high levels of acrylamide. For example, french fries contain high amounts of acrylamide for three reasons:
I continually hear about the health implications associated with eating fat, or carbohydrates and avoiding meat because of the fat content. When you hear about food and how it affects health remember it’s not always so simple. You need all 3 factors (asparagine, starch, high heat) to form the carcinogen acrylamide. Sweden seems to have taken the lead on this and I found a list of foods (crackers, cereal, waffles, pizza etc…) that were measured to determine the amount of acrylamide they contain, www.mindfully.org/Food/Acrylamide-Heat-Processed-Foods26apr02.htm.
Whether you are trying to eat more healthy or if there is a history of cancer in your family you may want to avoid foods that contain higher levels of acrylamide.